City Tries to Clarify Overtime

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The Fourth of July this year came on a Sunday. It was not, however, an official legal holiday.

Ken Storms, chief administrative officer for the city of Meridian, read the state code for the city council this week.

"The last sentence of that paragraph says 'provided however that in the event any holiday herein declared legal shall fall on Sunday then the next following day shall be a legal holiday,'" read Storms.

Firefighters get double time for working on a legal holiday, but this year those who worked on the actual Fourth of July were given only regular pay. Those who worked on Monday, the designated legal holiday, were given double time.

Mike Sims, president of the Firefighters Union, said according to the new union contract, that wasn't right.

"We felt like we were assured if the guys worked the actual holiday on weekends, then we'd get paid for it," Sims said. "It seems that that's not the case."

Sims argued that any firefighter who worked either Sunday July 4, the actual holiday, or Monday July 5, the state declared legal holiday, was entitled to double time.

Storms said the city had written to the attorney general's office for a ruling.

"And the answer was when the actual holiday falls on a Sunday, no compensation, no extra compensation can be paid because the legal holiday is the next day. I don't like that answer," said Storms.

City council president Bobby Smith said he agreed.

"They shouldn't have to go out, anybody, police, fire, anybody else shouldn't have to go out and work on a holiday and not get time off or get paid for it," Smith said.

Before this new contract, firefighters received regular pay for holiday work plus comp time for working on a holiday. The double time agreement changed that.

Council members instructed city attorney Bill Hammack to go back to the state attorney general and ask for a new review of the situation.